(VOD: thanks to Roberto Guzman for alerting us to this live, unedited version of Worthy’s press conference, which includes questions from reporters Diane Bukowski and Cornell Squires, as well as others on the case of Davontae Sanford. Move your cursor to about 9:13 minutes as the first portion contains a lot of the time reporters waited for Kym Worthy to enter to speak.)
Drug possession charge vs. beating victim Floyd Dent dropped
Prosecutor Worthy: “We cannot turn our heads when law enforcement becomes the lawbreaker.”
No charges of filing a false report or perjury, none against other 8 cops involved in beating
Father Ellis: “Matters of justice in Inkster are bigger than just one person”
By Diane Bukowski
April 21, 2015
DETROIT – Everyone is not satisfied that charges brought in the case of the near fatal beating of Detroit autoworker Floyd Dent by William “Robocop” Melendez, assisted by four other Inkster cops and four state troopers, will bring justice. The case has become notorious across the U.S. after police dashcam videotapes of the bloody beating were aired.
Four mass protests followed in Inkster and Highland Park, where Melendez also worked as a part-time narcotics detective. He has since been fired from both forces.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced during a press conference April 20 that Melendez had been charged with two felonies: one count of assault with intent to do great bodily harm, which carries up to 10 years in prison, and one count of misconduct in office through mistreatment of a prisoner, which carries up to five years.
“To many people in this region and across the country, police brutality appears to be out of control,” Worthy said during a press conference April 20. “We cannot turn our heads when law enforcement becomes the lawbreaker.”
Melendez was arraigned on the charges today at 2 p.m. in 22nd District Court in Inkster. A “not guilty” plea was entered, and his bond was set at $20,000.
Approvingly, one local newspaper headlined an editorial, “Kym Worthy Lays Down the Law.”
Worthy also announced that cocaine possession charges against Dent would be dropped in court April 22. She did not address the missing 16 minutes of a videotape of Dent’s treatment during his booking at the police station, which was to have been produced at that hearing in front of Wayne County Circuit Court Judge David Groner.
Dent and his attorney Gerald Rohl said that tape shows additional “terror” and “humiliation” perpetrated by Melendez and other officers.
Channel 4 aired the other five minutes, which shows Melendez and others bringing a bloodied Dent into a jail cell, wiping blood from his head and in terrible pain. Despite begging repeatedly to go to the hospital, he was denied medical attention. He had four fractured ribs, a fractured orbital bone, and bleeding on the brain. (See Channel Four report below.)
Melendez and the others took their time photographing and fingerprinting Dent before someone finally said they should call EMS.
Before Melendez’ arraignment, Father Ellis Clifton of St. Clement’s Episcopal Church in Inkster told VOD, “We want the officer’s immediate surrender and that he either be remanded [without bond] or have a bail set so high that anyone in his family who’s interested, that he wouldn’t violate it. This is because of his history—falsifiying police reports, witness tampering, and witness intimidation. There are rumors circulating in the community that people who stood up to protest Dent’s beating could end up disappearing.”
Melendez faced numerous such charges during the 2004 federal trial of a ring of cops he led, which had terrorized Detroit’s southwest side. One charge was that he told a witness that he would be killed if he testified.
Federal prosecutors called the jury’s “not guilty” verdict a “nullification verdict,” noting that more than a dozen Black Detroit officers had testified against the Ramparts-style gang in addition to its Black victims.
Worthy asserted during her press conference that the vast majority of police officers do their jobs well, and that she has “complete trust” in the Michigan State Police, who aided in the investigation of the Dent case, despite the presence of four state troopers at the scene, who Melendez testified actually participated in the events.
She said she was aware of the 2004 federal trial of Melendez and other cops and knew Inkster police chief Vicki Yost from her tenure with the Detroit police department, but would make no comment about the state of Inkster’s 80 percent white department. Yost was the partner of three-time killer cop Eugene Brown when he shot Lamar Grable, 20, to death in 1996. Yost continues to insist that her department has not finished investigating the Dent beating.
“It’s a great day for the legal system [but] I would like to see others … held accountable for their actions,” Dent’s attorney Gregory Rohl said in published remarks. “Others stood by and did nothing or were complacent in trying to (frame Dent).”
He said Dent was “elated,” it appears mostly at the fact that all charges against him had been dropped. He told Channel Four that he had not been able to sleep for 90 days.
Father Clifton said, “While I am very happy that Floyd Dent has been cleared of any wrongdoing and that Officer Melendez has been charged, I am distressed that the people who tased and kicked Mr. Dent and humiliated him at the jail are not at least being disciplined or prosecuted.”
Worthy brought no charges against Melendez’ partner, reserve cop John Zeileniewski, who dragged an unresisting Dent out of his car to the ground and held him by the legs, as Melendez put him in a chokehold and slugged him in the head 16 times with some sort of hard object in his glove, or another officer who tased Dent three times during the beating. She brought no charges against the other five officers present, including the troopers, for either taking part or failing to report the incident.
She told reporters no charges of filing a false police report or perjury would be brought against Melendez.
Earlier that day, Detroit’s Channel 7 aired an interview with Melendez in which he boastfully repeated his statement that Dent threatened to kill the officers, which Dent has vigorously denied. The video above shows Melendez at his arraignment and comments from his attorney David Lee, who also represented him in the 2004 federal trial.
The officers present wore no mics. Melendez also testified during the preliminary exam that Dent bit him twice, although his report indicated “no injuries” to any of the police involved in the arrest. Rohl released a dashcam video which appears to show Melendez taking a baggie of drugs out of his pocket to plant in Dent’s car.
Worthy said that she was not aware of the beating until March 23, when it was aired by Channel 4, with Kevin Dietz reporting. She said her office’s investigation into the case is now closed, “in the best interests of justice,” despite the missing 16 minutes of videotape.
In an amended statement she said today that her office issued a warrant for Dent on all charges Jan. 30, but did not see the video until March 17, the day before Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Ragan Lake handled Dent’s preliminary exam in the 22nd District Court of Michigan. Twenty-Second District Court Judge Sabrina Johnson viewed the videotape and dropped all but the cocaine possession charge against Dent. (To read complete transcript of preliminary exam, click on Floyd DentPreliminary Transcript.)
“As Mr. Dent’s case is being resolved, we need to remember that matters of justice in Inkster are bigger than just one person,” said Father Clifton. “St. Clement’s Church and the National Action Network have been very deliberate in the words we use—healing and transformation of our community. We are hopeful that all unjust structures will either topple or be changed, from local government to city services to charitable services to our police. The case with Mr. Dent should be something to energize us for a long time.”
He said Dent’s cases is not isolated, that there have been many cases of police brutality in Inkster, “often unreported and talked about only in casual conversation. Too many citizens of Inkster have lost hope. The fact that this happened in January but did not reach public attention until March gives credence to the belief of Inkster citizens that nothing substantial will come from them reporting instances of injustice.”
One man whose son had been framed by Melendez in an earlier case said of Worthy,
“She has left a trail of blood. People have been killed, put in jail, and their lives destroyed. Worthy opened the door for Melendez to walk free at trial. Look how they did [Detroit officer Joseph] Weekley and Aiyana Jones’ family. They framed her father and he will never see the light of day. They threw the case against Weekley. Prosecutors throw cases all the time. History speaks for itself.”
Joseph Weekley is now back patrolling Detroit streets, as are all the other officers involved in the horrific raid on the home of Aiyana Jones, 7, and her killing with an MP5 shotgun blast to the head. VOD reported earlier that an inside source said many in the prosecutor’s office were not happy with the way the Weekley and Charles Jones trials were handled, both prosecuted by Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Robert Moran.
Neither man was charged until after a lengthy Michigan State Police investigation, which ended up being focused primarily on Jones. An interrogation video of Chauncey Owens, who pled guilty to the killing of Je’Rean Blake, shown at the Owens-Jones trial, revealed that he named another man, not Jones, as the one who gave him the gun.
During her press conference, Prosecutor Worthy also said regarding the filing of a motion for a new trial for Davontae Sanford last week, by innocence clinics in Ann Arbor and Chicago, “It doesn’t make them right. None of you know all the facts. We will file a brief in response, and the case will be heard in court. It is not in the best interest of justice to drop the charges.”
Attorneys produced a 24-page detailed confession from admitted hitman Vincent Smothers, attached to their motion, to the murders for which Sanford, 14 when arrested, is serving 37-100 years.
Worthy also refused to file charges against the Highland Park and Grosse Pointe officers involved in the videotaped beating of Andrew Jackson, now charged with carjacking.
As indicated in the last VOD story linked below:
“The Detroit Free Press earlier reported that Highland Park Officer Ronald Dupuis had a long history of assaults in various suburban departments, including tasering a female partner, beating a disabled man, refusing to allow a woman in a jail cell access to a bathroom, forcing her to urinate in the cell, and stalking another woman, repeatedly pulling her over. He was fired from the Hamtramck Police Department for the taser incident, and resigned rather than being fired from the Southgate Police Department for the incidents involving the women.
Dupuis was also sued for beating a man in 2002, with a settlement, and false arrest in 2004. In 2012, he accidentally shot himself in the foot in a police station. (Click on Ronald DuPuis record DV Project for full accounting from a domestic violence project.)”
Press Releases from Prosecutor’s Office: